Thursday, February 28, 2013

The coming liberal exodus?

Will the Left wing of the United Methodist Church throw in the towel and split? Some of them say they should because they mow realize that they have lost the denominational fight to establish "anything goes" in sex as a doctrine of the Church.

The clarifying moment was at last summer's General Conference of the UMC. The GC meets for only two weeks every four years. It is the only body that can set denominational doctrine, policy or set polity. And last summer,
Delegates affirmed the denomination’s official teaching that sex is “only” for marriage and that homosexual practice is “incompatible with Christian teaching” (¶161F of the Book of Discipline) by a significantly larger margin than the previous General Conference. For the first time, activists opposed to biblical teaching ultimately gave up on even contesting UMC policies aligning required behavior of clergy and denominational officials with this stand.

This happened despite the fact that for their General Conference efforts, such activists received massive funding from secular political sources, launched a massive, months-long project of lobbying delegates, pursued unprecedented outreach to overseas delegates, brought an army of colorfully clad volunteers, had biased allies strategically placed in key General Conference leadership positions, and even received the prominently touted partial support of celebrity, former evangelical pastors Adam Hamilton and Mike Slaughter.
The Left has been trying to have the UMC approve homosexuality every four years since 1972. Their efforts have never prevailed, but their failure at 2012's G.C. was so severe that now, for example,
... the New York and California-Nevada Annual Conferences, which have long been dominated by sexually liberal theological radicals, separately adopted resolutions, each of which was entitled “A Study Committee for an Inclusive Conference,” protested General Conference’s continued orthodoxy on homosexuality, and established a committee to study structural alternatives for liberal United Methodists. The California-Nevada resolution explicitly floats the creation of a new, unorthodox Methodist denomination as one possibility. True to its separatist spirit, the New York resolution mandates the inclusion of representatives of about every caucus within that conference, of which there are many, with the singular exclusion of the evangelical Wesley Fellowship.
Like the US Congress, the number of delegates to the GC is set and the delegate shares are recomputed every quadrennium based on membership figures within each constituent Conference (think, diocese). Unlike the Congress, though, the GC includes delegates from overseas areas because the UMC is a near-worldwide denomination.

The largest non-US delegation is from Africa, where the UMC is growing handily. African sexcual mores tend to be very traditionalist and Africans' fealty to the letter and the spirit of biblical teachings  is generally much stricter than Americans'.

In 2012, 44 percent of the delegates were from overseas, with the huge majority of them coming from Africa. Every delegate I talked to agreed that there is a high probability that foreign delegates will be the majority in 2016 and absolute certainty they will in 2020.

So the American Methodist Left sees the writing on the wall and understands that their pro-gay platform has no future within the doctrine, practice and polity of the UMC. But will they split from the UMC in significant numbers?

Time will tell, but these comments struck me as rather perceptive:
Will the Liberals actually leave the United Methodist Church? It’s hard to believe… they seem to rely on the endowments of past generations to survive because they have no message of truth of their own worth preaching.
Here’s why I think this is mainly talk: conservatives give more money to the church than liberals, and liberals don’t want to leave that kind of funding and assets behind.
It may all come down to money. What a surprise.

Source: Talk Grows of Liberal Exodus from UMC